Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple

About The Temple

The Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Nellore District, Andhra Pradesh

The Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple is the largest active Hindu temple is located on an island called Srirangam formed by the Cauvery River and its distributary known as the Kollidam River or River Coleroon as it was named by the British. The temple was constructed in the 1st century AD following the Dravidian form of architecture covering a total area of 156 acres.

Influence on culture and religion

This temple is one out of the eight Sywayambu Kshetras where Lord Vishnu had manifested himself. Four of these eight places such as Tirumala Venkateswara Temple and others are located in South while the rest four including the Badrinath Temple are located in North India. Lord Vishnu is worshipped in all these eight places by hundreds and thousands of devotees every year. Philosophers and theologians like Ramanuja are also worshipped in this temple as he had left his family life behind and had made Srirangam his headquarters along with his disciples. This temple is also one of the five different temples that have been dedicated to Lord Vishnu and situated on the banks of the Cauvery River.

The presiding deity

The reclining idol of God Vishnu or Sri Ranganathanswamy is the main deity in the temple complex. The shrine is made in the form of an om symbol and plated with gold. Inside the shrine is the idol of Sri Ranganathan lying on a coiled serpent called Adishesha which has multiple heads hovering over the head God Vishnu protecting him from sun and rain. The reclining figure of God Vishnu is surrounded by idols of Brahma, Hanuman, Garuda and Vibhishana.

Other shrines present

The shrine of Goddess Ranganayaki or the consort of Vishnu is located beside the main Shrine of God Vishnu. The shrines of the different forms of God Vishnu such as Narasimha, Gopala Krishna, Rama, Chakradhazwar, Hayagreeva and others are present all around the complex. There are shrines dedicated to Ranganayaki to major saints like Venugopal and Ramanuja also present inside the temple complex.

Rituals and worship

People offer various items in their worship of God Vishnu at this temple. All offerings are put into a “Hundi” or large vessel. If the vessel is not able to accommodate the offering, then it is handed over to the staff of the temple. The “Tulabharam” ritual is performed by donating various items like rice, sugar, dal, turmeric, coins, etc. For the “Thirumanjanam” and “Annadharam” ritual, people offer money. Receipts for all offerings and the money are immediately issued by the temple staff. Prasadam that is given to devotees include curd rice, sweet pongal, a mixture of pieces of fruits and holy theertham.

During Viswaroop seva of the sri ranganathaswamy temple timings, anybody can enter the sanctum sanctorum of the temple complex. This period is between 6:00am to 7:15am. Puja is held from 7:15am to 9:00am in the morning, 12:00pm to 13:15pm in the afternoon and 18:00pm to 18:15pm in the evening. In between the puja timings people can have darshan from 9:00am to 12:00pm in the morning and 13:15pm to 18:00pm in the afternoon. Darshan is also possible from18:45pm to 21:00pm in the evening. Nobody is allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum after 12:00pm.

Religious events and festivals

The rituals and festivals in the temple go on for more than 250 days in a year. The various festivals that are held during the year are the Vaikunta Ekadeshi, the Jyestabhisheka, the Brahmotsavam and others. The “Pagal pathu” and the “Ra Pathu” rituals are held in the months of December and January stretching for twenty days. The twenty days of rituals are divided into two ten-day parts. The first day of the Ra pathu is called Vaikuntha Ekadeshi. Large vessels made of gold and silver are used to carry water during the Jyestabhisheka to wash gold ornaments of deities during the months of June and July.

The Bhramotsavam festival is held during March and April when the deity is taken to a garden on the second day and across the river to the village named Jiyapuram on the next day in a palanquin. The Rathothsavam festival is celebrated in January and February when the deity is taken around the grounds on a chariot. Festivals such as Chitra Poornima, Gaja Graha and Vasanthotsavam are also held at different times of the year.

Place of Pilgrimage

The Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple is one of the most popular Vaishnavite temples in southern India to be visited by thousands of Hindu devotees every year for participating in sri ranganathaswamy temple puja activities. It is a temple town that has seven concentric rectangular enclosures made of thick walls keeping the sanctum sanctorum at the center. The inner five rectangles serve as the temple complex while the outer two forms the settlement.

How To Reach

You have to travel to Tiruchirapalli or Trichy to visit sri ranganathaswamy temple Nellore by air, by rail or by bus. A bridge connects Trichy to Srirangam over the Cauvery river. The temple is well-connected by all means of communication.

  • By air – the nearest airport is the Tiruchirapalli International Airport where international flights from other countries make a touchdown. The airport is also connected to other cities in the country such as Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai and Thiruvananthapuram. Foreign cities such as Sharjah, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Singapore and countries like Malaysia and Kuwait are also connected by flights from this airport.
  • By rail - The railway track running from Chennai to Kanyakumari is the link between Srirangam and other cities of South India. The two stations of Trichy Junction and Trichy Fort, which are 8km and 2km away from Srirangam respectively serve as a link to other places and even New Delhi in Northern India.
  • By Bus – You can take a local bus, auto rickshaw or taxi from Trichy Central Bus Stand to Srirangam. The local bus service provides a 24x7 service, and a bus leaves the central bus stand for Srirangam at 5-minute intervals. Long distance buses connect Trichy with other parts of South India.

 

Nearby Attractions

There are many places of interest around Srirangam, Trichy and the sri ranganathanswamy temple Ranganaykulapet. Some of them are:

  • The Rock Fort Ganapati temple is a combination of two Hindu temples built on a rock that is supposed to be about 3800 million years old. The rock is about 83 meters high, and you have to climb 344 steps to reach the top. The two temples were dedicated to Lords Ganesha and Shiva.
  • A temple dedicated to Lord Shiva called Tiruvanaikkaval Temple is another attraction very near Srirangam and Trichy. The temple was built by a Chola king and is almost 1800 years old.
  • About 7 km away from Trichy is the temple dedicated to Goddess Veikkaliamman, who does not have a roof over her head. It is said that the goddess had asked her disciples not to build a roof over her head until every man on the world had a roof over their heads too.
  • The Viralimallai Temple is situated on top of a hill in the town with the same name. You have to climb 207 steps to reach the top of the hill.
  • The Gunaseelam Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu is situated on the banks of the Cauvery River. Mentally challenged children are taken to this temple for undergoing a 48-day treatment course.
  • The Mariamman Temple is located on the other side of the Cauvery River in Trichy. It is also known as the Samayapuram Temple where illnesses and diseases can be cured by buying metal replicas of the affected body parts and depositing them in the donation box.
  • The Gangaikondacholapuram Temple is another place of interest that you can pay a visit.
  • The Kallanai dam was built on the Cauvery River by The Chola king Karikalan in the 1st century for holding water to irrigate the agricultural fields on both sides of the Cauvery River. It is made of stone and is known as is approximately 329 meters long and 20 meters wide. It is known as the world’s oldest dams which is still being used.

History Of Temple

Historical background and legend

According to legends, Lord Rama was extremely pleased with Vibhishana, who had gone against his own brother Ravana and had supported Lord Rama to rescue Sita from his clutches. After returning victorious from Sri Lanka, Lord Rama presented Vibhishana with an idol of God Vishnu whom he had worshipped for a long time. The condition imposed on Vibhishana for carrying the idol to Sri Lanka was that he could not put down the idol on the ground anywhere before reaching Sri Lanka.

While travelling to Sri Lanka Vibhishana came across a great utsavam being held on the banks of River Cauvery. During a moment of forgetfulness, he put down the idol on the ground and when he tried to pick it up the idol, it refused to budge. In spite of repeated requests from Vibhishana, God Vishnu in the form of the idol could not be dislodged. But he promised Vibhishana that his blessings will be with him forever, and he would keep a watchful eye on Sri Lanka so that no harm comes to it. It is why the deity of a reclining God Vishnu faces the south.

A large number of incidents make up the sri ranganathaswamy temple history. It says that the place where the idol was placed fell into disuse and soon got covered by overgrowth. A Chola king had discovered the place accidentally while searching for a parrot. It is also said the idol was taken to Delhi in the 14th century by Malik Kafur. Some devotees from Srirangam went Delhi, won the heart of the Emperor by performing before him and got back the idol as an award. But Surathani, the emperor’s daughter loved Lord Vishnu and followed his idol to Srirangam Where she prostrated before him and immediately achieved enlightenment.